5 Ways to Spot a Broken Ankle
In our active society, a broken ankle injuries is increasingly common. Whether you trip down the stairs, or roll your ankle on the basketball court, sprains and fractures are possible—and easily diagnosed at Louetta Foot and Ankle Specialists, thanks to our in-office x-rays and MRIs!
That was the case for our patient Sara M., who recently shared: “Dr Walsh is the BEST doctor I have ever been to. I’m so grateful I found her. I injured my ankle while hiking in Colorado. I had x-rays taken while there and there was nothing broken so I figured it was Ok.
2 weeks later, it was still so painful. I made an appointment with Dr. Walsh (her staff got me an appointment within a day) and I brought my x-rays with me. She said she could just look at those and wouldn’t have to do more. Again, confirmed no broken bones. She recommended an MRI, so I did that and she called me the next day with the results. A lot of soft tissue damage, but I followed her directions, wore the boot, and did all the recommended therapy and MLS laser treatment (it’s unbelievable how much this machine reduced my pain) and now I am back to full activities.
Dr Walsh had a wonderful bedside manner, was very personable, and explained my diagnosis and prognosis in a manner in which I could easily understand. I would highly recommend Dr Walsh and have referred many people to her who have all been pleased.”
Want to know how to recognize an ankle fracture? And how we diagnose and treat this injury in our Spring and Tomball, TX podiatry practice? Just keeping reading for all the details!
You can find several bones in your ankle. And that’s why broken ankles are so common. That bony bump on the outside of your ankle is actually the base of your fibula. This bone can break if you twist your ankle with force, or if you land on it the wrong way. In fact, this is the most common type of ankle fracture. But it’s not the only kind.
You can also fracture your medial malleolus. That’s the bone on the inside of your ankle. Even your posterior malleolus—located at the back of your ankle joint—is vulnerable to fractures. In some cases, you may fracture more than one of these bones. Of course, when that happens, your injury will be more severe. And you may require surgery to fully recover.
Common Broken Ankle Risks
The biggest risk for ankle fractures is playing sports. And certain sports increase your risk more than others. As podiatrists, we worry about ankle injuries when a sport involves:
- Quickly changing directions
- Contact, especially with high impacts
Because of these risks, football, basketball and rugby players often sustain broken ankles. Often, you may develop a fracture and a torn ligament, all with the same injury.
How could that be possible? Well, three ligaments attach your fibula attaches to the outside of your ankle. But when you twist or roll your ankles, you can stretch or tear those ligaments—that’s when you’ll deal with a sprain. At the same time, those ligaments can pull at your bone. And if they do so with enough force, they can fracture your fibula. In extreme cases, the ligaments can even take a chunk out of your bone. We call that injury an avulsion fracture. And it may require surgical repair for you to fully recover.
Diagnosing and Treating Ankle Sprains and Fractures
Because so many athletes sprain and fracture their ankles with one injury, it’s important to x-ray sports injuries to your feet and ankles. Then, once we diagnose a fracture, your treatment will depend on the severity of your injury.
With some broken ankles, all you’ll need is immobilization so your bone can heal properly. If that’s your situation, we’ll cast your broken ankle. In some cases, we can provide you with a walking boot while you heal. This should make it easier to get around while you recover from your injury.
But if your broken ankle is unstable or misplaced (the broken bone shifted out of alignment), you will probably need surgery. When we operate on your broken ankle, we can put the bones back in alignment so you heal properly. Often, we’ll secure the bones with hardware to prevent future problems and reinjury.
Following surgery for a broken ankle, you’ll likely have to take weight off your foot for up to 6 weeks. For the first two weeks, you’ll probably need to keep all weight off your injured foot. But after that, we’ll likely be able to switch you to a walking boot, until you’re fully healed. As you recover, we’ll monitor your progress and help you return to your normal activities. We can even offer in-office physical therapy to help you regain your pre-fracture strength. So that you won’t notice deficits when you get back to your sport of choice.
Worried about an ankle injury that just won’t heal? You could have an undiagnosed fracture or soft tissue injury, so you can’t wait another day to get diagnosed. Make an immediate appointment with our office, and we’ll start you on the path to proper recovery.